From Publishers Weekly
Robertson offers in his absorbing American debut (two novels have been published in the U.K.) the cleverly framed autobiography of a Scottish minister who confronts the devil. A brief foreword claims the book is an autobiography penned by Gideon Mack, a Church of Scotland minister who, after allegedly encountering the devil, becomes a pariah and madman before disappearing. Raised by a harsh minister father, Gideon abandons faith at an early age, but later discovers it's possible to "be a Christian without involving Christ very much" and secures the pulpit at a small coastal church where he proves to be a gifted preacher. After his wife dies in a traffic accident, Gideon consummates a long-held obsession with old friend Elsie, whose husband, John, is also a longtime friend. A conflicted Gideon, while walking with another minister, falls into a gorge and is presumed dead. But he appears downstream, only slightly injured, three days later. His survival is miraculous, but his account of what happened is scandalous: he was saved by the devil. Gideon's struggle to find meaning in his experience leads to his undoing. Gideon's sly unreliability is cloaked by Robertson's mastery of language and command of the elements of fiction; the combination is addictive and captivating. (Apr.)
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Gideon Mack is a good man and a good minister . . . on the surface. Underneath, he is an atheist, he covets his best friend's wife, and he believes that life is basically meaningless. He keeps up the facade until first a huge stone appears in a clearing where there was no stone before and then he falls into the Black Jaws, a ravine with a raging river running through it. Presumed dead, the town is agog when three days later he washes ashore with an amazing tale about being tended to and entertained in a cave by the devil himself. He is, of course, suspended from his kirk and shunned by the town and eventually disappears again. When his body is found, there is also a manuscript, which is sent to a publisher, creating the framework for this story. Award-winning author Robertson makes his American debut with this thought-provoking and intelligent novel. More a discussion of humanity than divinity, it will capture and hold the reader's attention long past the last page. Elizabeth DickieCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved